I’m bringing it over a level today.
Usually my blog is a space to bring laughter and WTH as I confess the random ideas and experiences that I have encountered.
But something odd but cool happened a few days ago, and I haven’t really brought it up. I don’t know how to have a conversation about it without making people feel weird, or expecting them to laugh.
[That’s a lie. I put it on SnapChat, because everything is easier for me to talk about on The Snap]
So, my dad immigrated from Africa long, long ago. LONG ago. Longago.
His parents immigrated to Africa from India.
I immigrated to America from my mom’s loins.
She was born and raised here.
My hair is lighter these days, thanks to a li’l place called a salon, so people don’t ask much about my ethnicity anymore until they hear my [super cool] last name.
We all have our Thing that we struggled with as tweens/teens. Mine was my skin and hair. It made me feel more self-conscious about how I present myself today. I make jokes about my appearance now before others can… I’m realizing people aren’t really moved to make the jokes that I jump to make.
YOU: WHY ARE YOU SHARING THIS? WHERE IS YOUR FUNNY?!
So dad visited me a few days ago. He’s a dapper man. It’s hard to place his (our) ethnicity; the only tell that maybe he wasn’t born in America is his super-proper speech.
We were returning to the car at the grocery store and an older man stopped us and asked, “Are you two from the middle east?”
My first inner response was defense. Because of my ambiguous looks (see drawing in header), typically the rude remarks were brought on by whomever people feared at that time.
Scrub your skin!
Stop going out in the sun!
I heard your parents are spies; no one wants to be your friend (ok. I was 10 with that one. Probably should have thought it was cool)
And usually just a glare and an, “Ew.”
So I was scared about what daggers this man was going to shoot.
My dad told him he’s from India.
Side note: It’s The Hardest to say, “Well, my last name is Portuguese, but my family is from Africa, but they’re actually Indians… no not Native American.”
People start snoring after, “Portu…”
The man nodded at us and said, “Welcome to America.”
I don’t want readers to laugh here. That’s why I haven’t told the story in person.
Honestly, first, I still felt a defensive need to laugh.
Welcome to America? It’s been over 40 years. More than half dad’s life.
I was born here.
Then I took a step back when we got in the car. The (few, but effective) times I’ve been teased, the climate in our country right now with negativity hitting immigrants in a way I’ve never witnessed…
The man was offering an olive branch.
“Welcome to America,” he said.
“Thank you, Sir.” My dad responded. “That was really kind.”
It takes one drop of rain to make a ripple in a puddle.